Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rumblings Rise Between Hezbollah and Israel

By Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, Jul 12, 2010 (IPS) - Israeli intelligence has warned that a new war with Hezbollah on Israel's northern border with Lebanon cannot be ruled out, following heightened tensions between United Nations peacekeeping forces and Hezbollah supporters in the south of Lebanon.

"Israel has to be ready for any sudden provocation or outbreak of hostilities," Dan Diker from the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs tells IPS. "The same way the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war was triggered over Hezbollah capturing Israeli soldiers."

In 2006 Hezbollah guerillas captured several Israeli soldiers after laying ambush along the border. This led to the second Israel-Lebanon war which lasted just over a month until UN Resolution 1701 brought hostilities to an end.

Dr Samir Awad from Birzeit University near Ramallah, however, thinks the possibility of a military confrontation in the near future is slim, and that the current flare-up has more to do with internal Lebanese politics.

"Neither side wants war at this stage. Both Israel and Hezbollah are unwilling to pay the high price of a new and bloody conflict. The events in the south are related to a power struggle in the Lebanese government," Awad tells IPS.....

Relations between various sects in the Lebanese army have worsened as the army has tried to confront Hezbollah guerillas. Many officers in the Lebanese army are Shia, and sympathetic to Hezbollah.

"Hezbollah has managed to hold on to its weapons despite Resolution 1701," says Awad. "It has also managed to win support away from the March 14 governing coalition, led by the pro-Western Saad Hariri.

"Moreover, it continues to successfully portray itself as Lebanese liberator due to Israel's ongoing occupation of the Shebaa Farms and the northern part of Ghajar Village."......"

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